In a strong start to the new year, marine terminals at the Port of Long Beach moved the equivalent of 579,455 twenty-foot-long container units in January, a 13.7% jump over the same month a year ago.

Shipping in advance of an early Chinese New Year, importers moved 293,855 inbound twenty-foot-equivalent units through Long Beach, up 16.2% over a year ago.

On the Chinese lunar calendar, New Year’s Day ranges between late January and mid-February. Last year, New Year’s Day was February 9. This year, it was January 29, beginning the Year of the Dog and a week-long celebration that includes the shutdown of many Chinese businesses.

Meanwhile, as Asian firms continue to scramble for raw materials, exports jumped 22.3% to 99,740 teus. With imports still exceeding exports, the number of empty containers (most headed overseas to be re-filled) rose 6.1% to 185,860 teus.

Green Flag Incentive Program

Environmentally friendly ship operators who comply with vessel speed limits to improve air quality will be rewarded with lower dockage rates under a tariff reduction approved by the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners.

Under the $2.2 million-a-year Green Flag Incentive Program, ocean vessels that observe a 12-knot speed limit within 20 miles of the Port during an entire year of voyages to and from Long Beach will be awarded a Green Flag environmental achievement award to recognize their contributions to improved air quality.

Ocean carriers, who operate the individual ships, will qualify for a 15% discounted Green Flag dockage rate during the following 12 months if 90 percent of their vessels comply with the 12-knot speed limit for a year.

About 65% of all vessels now comply. The goal of the Green Flag Program is to encourage 100 percent compliance. Port officials estimate that if all vessels comply with the program, emissions of smog-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) would be reduced by nearly 550 tons a year.

Queen Mary 2 rendezvous with original Queen Mary

Escorted by a flotilla of ships, yachts, fireboats, news helicopters and recreational boats, the Queen Mary 2 cruised into Long Beach Harbor on February 23 for a historic rendezvous with its namesake, the original Queen Mary.

Maneuvering as close as the harbor’s water depths would allow, about a quarter-mile south of the Queen Mary, the new Queen Mary 2 blew its horn in a salute and its 71-year-old predecessor responded with its horn.

Thousands of people lined the waterfront. The older Queen Mary has been permanently docked for more than 30 years in Long Beach, where it is a tourist attraction, floating hotel and the city’s most recognizable icon.

Matson launches new China-to-Long Beach weekly service

Matson Navigation Co. has launched a new China-to-Long Beach weekly express service with the sailing of the Matson Manulani from Shanghai on February 22 and arrived in Long Beach on March 5.

The 11-day transit time is among the fastest in the trans-Pacific trade. Oakland-based Matson, one of the few US-flag carriers in the international trade, is deploying five 2,600-teu vessels in its new China-to-Long Beach service.

Westbound, Matson will continue to call in Hawaii and Guam before continuing to the Chinese ports of Ningbo and Shanghai.

Harbor Talking Group urges early filing

The Harbor Talking Group is urging importers to file entry documentation as early as legally possible to expedite cargo movement and reduce port terminal congestion.

The Talking Group, which consists of representatives of ocean carriers, terminal operators, customs brokers, Customs and Border Protection, and the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, is dedicated to identifying solutions to improve goods movement efficiency.

The group noted that Customs allows importers to pre-file most customs entries five days before a vessel arrives at port. Delayed filings can cause intermodal cargo to miss weekly trains headed across the country.

Westwood’s new bulk ship eases Canada ’ US lumber shipments

Westwood Shipping, forest product